Q: What do immunizations do?
A: Vaccines work by preparing a child’s body to fight illness. Each immunization contains either a dead or a weakened germ (or parts of it) that causes a particular disease.
Q: Are vaccines safe?
A: Yes. Vaccines are very safe. The EPI vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible.
Q: What are the side effects of the vaccines? How do I treat them?
A: Vaccines, like any medication, may cause some side effects. Most of these side effects are very minor, like soreness where the shot was given, fussiness, or a low-grade fever. These side effects typically only last a couple of days and are treatable. For example, you can apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth on the sore area to ease discomfort.
Q: Why do vaccines start so early?
A: The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to life-threatening diseases. Children are immunized early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age, and the consequences of these diseases can be very serious, and even life-threatening, for infants and young children.
Q: Why should my child be immunized?
A: Children need immunizations (shots and drops) to protect them from 9 Vaccine Preventable Childhood Diseases. These diseases have serious complications and can even kill children.
Q: Which are 9 Vaccine Preventable Diseases?
- Tetanus (Lockjaw)
- Pertussis (Whooping cough)
- Hepatitis B
- Childhood TB
Q: How many shots does my child need?
A: The following vaccinations are recommended by age 2 and can be given in five visits to a doctor or public health clinic:
- vaccination against measles/mumps/rubella (MMR)
- vaccinations against Hib
- vaccinations against polio
- vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP)
- vaccinations against hepatitis B
- vaccination against varicella
Q: When should my child receive immunizations?
A: Immunizations are given at birth, and then at 2, 4, 6 and 12-18 months of age. Booster doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), polio, and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) are needed again between ages 4 and 6. The first measles vaccine must be given on or after the first birthday. Check with your doctor or health care provider.
Q: Can my child receive many vaccinations at the same time?
A: Vaccines are as useful when combined with other vaccines as they are alone and carry no greater risk for harmful side effects. In addition to being safe, there are two reasons for giving children multiple vaccinations during the same visit. First, we want to immunize children early to protect them at a time when they are more likely to become sick. Second, giving several vaccinations at one time means fewer trips to your health care provider and may be less traumatic for your child.
Q: Can my child be immunized if he or she is sick?
A: Even if your child has a slight fever, cold or runny nose, upset stomach, ear infection, or is taking antibiotics, he or she can still be immunized safely. There is no greater risk of harmful events when immunizations are given during a minor illness. However, if a fever or other symptoms suggest a moderate or serious illness, your child should not be vaccinated until the symptoms improve.
Q: What do I do if my child has a serious reaction?
A: This is called Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI), If you think your child is experiencing a persistent or severe reaction, call your doctor or get the child to a doctor right away. Write down what happened and the date and time it happened. Ask your doctor, nurse or health department to file a “Vaccine Adverse Event Report”.
Q: Why can’t I wait until school to have my child immunized?
A: Immunizations need to begin at birth; most vaccinations are completed by age 2. By immunizing on time, you can protect your child from being infected and prevent the infection of others at school or at day care centers. Children under 5 years of age are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection.
Q: What if my child didn’t get his or her shots when they were supposed to or they have gotten behind schedule?
A: Although it is important to immunize on time, it is never too late to start getting immunizations. If your child has had some of her shots and then gotten behind schedule, she doesn’t have to start over. The shots already given will count. Simply continue the schedule where your health care provider left off.
Q: What will happen if my child doesn’t get the shots?
A: Maybe nothing, if your child is never exposed to disease. But children are often exposed to diseases. All but one of these diseases (tetanus) are spread easily from person to person. If your child has not had her shots and she is around someone who has measles, whooping cough or one of the other childhood diseases, she will probably get sick, too.
Q: Is it important to keep a record of my child’s immunizations?
A: An immunization record helps you and your health care provider keeps your child on schedule by reminding you when his next immunizations are due. A record should be started when your child gets his first shot and updated each time he receives an immunization. This information will be helpful if you move or change health care providers, and will be needed when your child starts day care or school. Your child’s immunization record should be treated like a birth certificate or any other important paper, stored in a safe place where you can find it easily.
Q: Are immunizations costly?
The Expanded Program on Immunization, Pakistan provides free vaccines to the children of Pakistan.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Please click here for more information.